Analysing a Valentine’s Day protest mob

Published: February 23, 2017
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Valentine’s Day can mean whatever you want it to mean for you. PHOTO: AFP.

There were a string of terrorist attacks last week in Pakistan. On Tuesday 14, 2017, the Islami Jamiat-e-Taliba (IJT) came out in numbers vehemently protesting…Valentine’s Day.

Photo: AFP

Their creative banners included F shamelessness – it is not clear whether the F was used as a verb i.e. the protestor wants to do something vile and inappropriate to shamelessness or whether he is a teacher at the University who has failed shamelessness. The way the man is dressed in a denim shirt makes me think he got stood up on a date and decided to join the other protestors. Maybe his date heeded the advice of the protestors and said no to her valentine – frankly speaking if this was Tinder the faces of the protestors were enough to make their valentines say no to them.

Another man holds a sign rejecting the Western culture while wearing a dress shirt holding up a cardboard (invented in England in 1817). Even the text is written by a marker patented in the US in 1910. Maybe he was also protesting irony that day.

I understand the plight of some of these men. I have not had a valentine for the 10th year running. I have wanted to protest this day as much as anybody else but living in a country where you are so cognisant of your fortune just to be alive, clothed and fed every day it is hard to lament a day created for love.

All my sympathies are with the man with the green chart paper who has no love story, no Valentine’s Day, No girlfriends – hell he even has no friends! If he has no friends, at some point he has to realise that Valentine’s Day is not the problem, he needs help. Maybe he just came to the protest to make some friends: Finally a place where he belongs, one where everybody hates everyone.

He does not need a valentine, he just needs a hug. There is still hope for the preteen with the “No Love, No Valentine” sign. The sixth grader who refused his offer to share chewing gum during recess is only the first of many girls who will break his heart. He needs to get used to the heartbreak just like he got used to his teeth falling off. Unfortunately, there is no heart fairy putting money under your pillow each time your heart breaks.

On the other end of the spectrum is the old man with the “We are Muslim so we do not celebrate Valentine Day” sign. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s doppelganger has been part of our country for ages. He even looks like he has lived through a few centuries. He is the man who said “We are Muslim so we will not install electricity at our mosques” in antiquity. He is the man who said “We are Muslim so we will not use the printing press” during the Mughal era. He is the man who said “We are Muslim so we will not study Western Education” during the British rule – which is why he still does not know that only the first letter of the first word in a sentence should be capitalised.

Finally coming to Salman Butt, who is trying to hide his identity by growing a beard and putting on a black face to seem darker – he is standing at the edge of the large banner in the red jacket. The sign that reads “Dil ka nahee, ye deen ka mamla hay,” (It isn’t a matter of love but a matter of religion) without realising that religion is purely in the heart.

If only he had read some Bulleh Shah,

Masjid Dha Day, Mandir Dha Day
Dha Day Jo Kujh Disda
Par Kissay Da Dil Na Dhawee(n)
Rub Dilaa(n) Wich Wasda”

(Tear down the Mosque, tear down the temple
Tear down everything in sight
But don’t (tear down) break anyone’s heart
Because God lives there.)

-Bulleh Shah

If there is one thing this country really needs, it is more love – be it love for God, or love for the people of God. Why come out and protest against love? Go home, hug your family, love your children, and tell your friends how much they mean to you. Valentine’s Day can mean whatever you want it to mean for you.

Use it as a day to show your love for God because one thing is for certain, if you are out there spreading hate, if you are out there harassing people on the streets, if you are a part of the group of students who assaulted a couple on Sea View, if you are burning down things, if you are out with sticks beating people, then you are definitely not showing that you love God or His people.

It has nothing to do with your faith. It is all you. It is you that is hateful because the God I believe in talks about love. How can you then stand with a sign that says “No Love” in the name of that God?

shehzad.ghias

Shehzad Ghias

A graduate from the LUMS Law School and is running his own theatre production company, Cogito Productions.He works as a theatre teacher at various schools. He tweets @Shehzad89 (twitter.com/Shehzad89)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.